Going Dutch

My dad spent a lot of time at Piedmont Hospital in the 80s. He had a kidney transplant in 1988 and between that and the visits before and after the transplant with his doctor’s office being at the hospital, I knew that place like the back of my hand. Across the street was an Original Pancake House. We used to stop in almost every time we went and I always got the same thing: a Dutch Baby and a side of strawberries and cream. I have some incredibly fond memories of those days and times with my dad and a German pancake is comfort food for me. That restaurant is now a CVS. There are other locations scattered about but now I just make them at home.

I use Alton Brown’s Recipe because it’s the best  I have found (duh, it’s Alton Brown) but I have just (not to toot my own horn but I’m totally tooting my own horn) improved upon it.

How, you ask? Well, that’s easy. Chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better. And anyone who knows me knows that I’m a cocoa snob, so don’t go making this with Hershey’s, ok? That’s an order. Get thy browser over to King Arthur Flour and order thee a bag of Bensdorp Dutch-Process Cocoa before you start this recipe. Go on, I’ll wait.

Ok, so this is adapted from Alton’s recipe. He lives just a few miles from me so we’re on a first name basis. Well, we would be if he knew who I was (drop me an email, Alton and let’s go to the range and then have a beer!). He gets credit for the base recipe but making it better with chocolate is ALL ME! I mean, look at this, it’s beautiful. And it tastes phenomenal. The smell of the chocolate wafting through the air…mmmmmmmm. Because I added the strawberries and powdered sugar before taking the photo, the pancake had time to fall a bit. These babies don’t stay puffed up for long!

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Better Than Alton’s Chocolate Dutch Baby Pancake

Ingredients
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 T  all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Bensdorp cocoa (even if you don’t use the full-fat Bensdorp, at least don’t use the cheap stuff!)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 T milk (whole or 2% is fine)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar and cut strawberries, for serving (optional)
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan and heat the pan in the oven for 10 minutes, until it reaches cooking temp. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside to cool slightly. Mix together the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter, and blend together. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend on high until smooth and frothy, 30 to 45 seconds. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and immediately pour the batter into the center. Bake for 19-23 minutes, do not open the oven while baking. The Dutch baby will puff up in the center and the edges will be dark and crispy. Serve warm topped with strawberries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
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This Girl is on FIRE!

This Girl is on FIRE!

I have been tremendously busy lately. And all fired up. There have been many changes in the last couple of weeks. The first being I have discontinued my association with a certain purple-themed women’s shooting organization. Long story short, my time with them showed me that the organization’s founder was not someone I was comfortable being affiliated with for numerous reasons. That being the case, I also could not, in good conscience, encourage anyone else to be a part of her organization. I had determined I would be leaving back in December and such decision was consistently reinforced from that time until I left on April 17th.

I spent the last few months biding my time, trying to figure out a solution or find an alternative. Disbanding my chapter was not an option for me, as I had made a commitment to my ladies. This was a group which I built all on my own and I’d worked hard to develop it. I spent a lot of time and my personal money and throwing it away wasn’t a consideration for me.

God provides. I finally discovered a wonderful alternative. I had to sniff it out and hunt it down like a dog but I found it. I’ll share more about that later when the time is right. It’s a brand new organization and we’re working hard to get everything rolling. What I love about it is that it’s being built with integrity and a greater purpose. I’m so happy to be a part of it and I’ll be sharing more soon. But suffice to say, I have been working my tail off, happily.

Another wonderful thing that has happened is that HB 60, the Safe Carry Protection Act, was signed last week! I was invited to the signing but prior commitments kept me from going. It would have been fun to be there but the important thing is that come July 1, Georgia will be a much safer place to live.

And, speaking of a safer Georgia, I’ve been sitting on some other information for months that can finally be shared. Another bill, HB 826, was signed into law yesterday. While on the surface this bill makes great strides to remove the silly “zero-tolerance” policies in schools which have ended up in expulsion for kids with items such as seat belt cutters in their car on school campus, it does far more than most understand. This bill also decriminalizes campus carry.

Yes, you read correctly. Come July 1, campus carry will now be decriminalized for those with a valid Georgia Weapons License. Understand that it’s been kept quiet for obvious reasons but also please know that nothing was hidden. The bill has always been available for anyone’s survey and study as all bills are. Nothing was hidden or snuck in at the 11th hour. It passed the House unanimously and the Senate with all but two votes in the affirmative. I and others who were familiar with this bill have been encouraged to remain quiet about it though, as any extra attention to it could have derailed the bill in its entirety.

While the language is a bit confusing, I encourage you to read it. I would also encourage common sense and good judgment come July 1. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should and we should all strive to be responsible citizens and balance rights with responsibility. Walking onto a college campus open carrying on July 1 isn’t something I would advise and would outright discourage. The two laws, HB 60 and HB 826 will need to be merged when writing the new code sections and there will inevitably be test cases to establish case law, so be smart here, I plead of you.

Here is the link to the full text of the bill.  

Apple Buttered, Panko Crusted Pork Chops

Maybe it’s time for a food post after all the politics and gun slinging? I think so.

Last night, I took a break from my new Insta-Pot electric pressure cooker, I have been WEARING IT OUT! I love it. It was my birthday gift from my mom and it’s been a welcome addition to my kitchen! It pressure cooks, slow cooks, sautes, steams, makes yogurt. I’m not sure there’s anything it won’t do. The only thing I haven’t mastered in it yet is pressure cooking pork. I don’t think I have my timing quite right on it yet. That’s okay, it’ll come.

In the meantime, I had a couple of pork chops that I wanted to make for dinner last night. I had it in my head that I wanted to flavor them with apples and goat cheese. I wanted to stuff them with goat cheese but they were a bit too thin for stuffing. So, I decided to slather them with apple butter which I made myself from the delicious apples from Freedom Farms and canned last fall. Then, I rolled them in panko crumbs and browned them on both sides in a cast iron skillet. Lastly, I baked them at 325 for 30 minutes. They turned out delicious. I served the goat cheese on the side, which actually worked out really well because it was also excellent with the roasted truffle-salted baby potatoes.

The potatoes are super easy as well. Slice baby potatoes in half, spread out on cookie sheet and thoroughly cover with olive oil and sprinkle with truffle sea salt. Roast for 20-22 minutes at 450.

Super easy and super delicious dinner! C’mon, doesn’t this look yummy?

porkchop

The Truth about GA’s HB 875

As many of you know, I lead a local chapter of a women’s shooting organization. Our most recent meeting was an informational presentation of HB 875 which is now in the GA Senate awaiting its committee hearing.

You see, the opponents of this bill have been very untruthful about the contents of this bill. I’m not sure if they haven’t read it or if they’re just outright lying. Regardless, it’s time to set the record straight about what HB 875 does, what it doesn’t do and why it’s important to you if you live in GA.

A friend of mine took my presentation and slide show and has put together a fantastic production. If you haven’t read the bill, I encourage you to do so but the following video explains it in its entirety.

My 15 Minutes

Being a women’s shooting chapter leader, I have found myself in the midst of an incredibly huge and very public movement. Fellow leaders have been subjects of newspaper articles, TV news segments, documentaries, etc. I’ve always avoided any publicity though, preferring to work under the radar. I never sent out a press release for my chapter, never invited any media and never allowed myself to be around any of it. I didn’t really have any deep objection to it but I’ve had some personal circumstances and plans in the works in which I felt it best that any publicity of a controversial nature be avoided. And 2A rights are certainly controversial these days. I think we all know I’m not shy and I don’t mind public speaking when I have my thoughts organized. I don’t mind people in general knowing how I volunteer much of my time. I was just never comfortable with the idea of real publicity.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “You plan and God laughs?” That’s been my experience lately. I was contacted a few weeks ago completely out of the blue by a reporter at the Marietta Daily Journal asking for a quote. The story was supposed to be about a recent attempt of the “knock-out” game. Keeping in mind my “no publicity” stance, I initially wasn’t going to respond. Then I thought, what’s the harm. It’s one quote in a small paper. Small stuff and it would be there and gone, quickly. So, I offered my quote.

And from there, it grew. The reporter then came back and asked me for a photo of myself or of my group. I sent her a photo of my group on the line at the shooting range, from behind. I’m careful to protect the privacy of my ladies. Her editor wanted something different. So they asked me to meet for some photos to be taken. And the reporter couldn’t verify the “knock out” game attempt. So, she asked me more questions. And it just got away from me. Next thing I knew, I was on the front page of the Marietta Daily Journal with an entire article about me. I didn’t even know it was on the front page until a few people in one of my church groups mentioned it. I had not even gotten a copy of the paper.

I was a little mortified. It was way more than I was expecting. I wasn’t mad with the reporter. While she was not quite educated on 2A and gun matters, she wasn’t unfriendly toward them and nothing occurred to which I had objected. Maybe I was a little naive with regards to my expectations but that’s on me. So, I chalked it up to a cool article which would hopefully die down quickly.

But, you see, I have this thing about being opinionated. And being vocal. Which would soon put me on the local news. My House Committee testimony on HB 875 earned me a spot on the evening 11Alive newscast:

I had no idea about this either until a friend messaged me and asked me for my autograph. I guess I should have expected it was a possibility but it just really didn’t occur to me that I would garner any attention other than from those present at the hearing. I was also quoted in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Three news outlets in less than two weeks. I could hardly believe it. And the first article had nothing to do with the other two appearances. The last two happened to be two news outlets in the same room covering the same story and they both somehow chose to include me.

Craziness.

Of course, in this age of social media and given that HB 875 is a hot potato topic right now, coverage spread. I ended up on others’ personal blogs, Facebook pages, forums, etc. I’ve been recognized by a couple of people I don’t know…someone I bought a vehicle from and a store cashier. Nothing major, but it still felt strange. I don’t know how famous people keep their sanity. Oh, that’s right…they don’t. Nevermind.

I spent some time a little freaked out over the whole thing. I had no reservations whatsoever over my efforts in helping HB 875. It was just that whole media thing.

So when a local FOX reporter most recently contacted me wanting to do a story on me, I declined. I actually tried to pass it on to a fellow chapter leader and friend but she specifically wanted me. Still, I declined. I was overwhelmed and freaking out a little and concerned with how all this publicity may affect my aforementioned personal circumstances.

But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. My husband helped me realize that I need to do what’s important to me and embrace opportunities which help further the causes which are important to me. As far as the publicity and my personal circumstances go, it will be what it will be. Some people will love it and others will hate it and I cannot control that. I can’t worry about it too much. I especially can’t worry too much over something which may or may not even happen regardless of whether I find myself in the public eye over controversial issues such as the Second Amendment and civil rights.

So, I’m choosing to embrace it. I’m not going to be soliciting any media attention (I’m not embracing it THAT much) but I’m not going to work so hard to actively avoid it. Que sera, sera. I will do my thing and be myself and anyone who cannot accept that can just move along. I’ve been concerned with the possibility of not being acceptable as a result of the things which are important to me when I should be more concerned that if someone cannot accept me without judgement of the things which matter to me, then perhaps they are not acceptable to me.

Mrs. Finch Goes to Atlanta

So, I’m involved in an organization called GeorgiaCarry.Org (GCO). The organization exists to protect and restore 2A rights in our home state. It’s a fantastic organization and truly centered on its mission. It’s not a fundraising organization like some others out there which I will not name. Everyone at GCO is a volunteer. No one draws a paycheck and that applies from the Board of Directors down. GCO has been instrumental and crucial in the passage of all the positive gun bills since its inception. And their members are what makes the organization what it is. GCO members are people of action, not just words.

Yesterday HB 875 passed the House Committee of Public Safety and Homeland Security. This is the best gun bill Georgia has seen in years. The most important highlights of this bill is that it restores private property rights to churches and bars and affords tenants in public housing the opportunity to be legally equipped to defend themselves. The bill contains numerous other benefits as well. The Safe Carry Protection Act is a big step forward in restoring liberty and trust in the general citizenry.

I was honored with the opportunity to speak in favor of this bill yesterday. Those who know me well are aware of my dad’s history and involvement in GA politics. My level of involvement thus far, however, has only been to make myself as knowledgeable as possible and to vote in every election possible. But yesterday, I finally understood why Dad enjoyed the process so much. It’s history being made. It’s being able to actually be a part of the legislative process and not only have a say at the ballot box but to be a part of shaping the laws which are made by those put into office at the ballot box. It’s really a fascinating process up close. And it felt great to be there as it passed the committee.

I was approached and thanked by several reps, thanking me for my words and for being there. Darlene Taylor expressed her pleasure at my being there. She’s in favor of this bill and she’s the only woman on the committee who is, so I feel like she was particularly appreciative to have additional female support represented. I think that they appreciate regular citizens coming out and voicing their opinions rather than listening to lobbyists all the time or getting form letters or nasty comments and threats from their constituents. I know that we often sit at home and watch and read the news in disgust and complain about our  lawmakers but speaking in front of them, in person, is a productive way to be more involved. I think also, being a woman, that my voice and the voices of other women who were there in favor of this bill, goes a long way with them. It allows them to personally hear how bills can help or harm the citizenry at large.

I had a fantastic experience yesterday and I hope to be able to stand before the State Senate soon and share my voice before them as well as HB 875 moves forward.

Here is the statement which I prepared and delivered yesterday:

“Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Committee,

I come before you today first and foremost as a woman. I am also an NRA certified instructor, leader of a 40 member women’s shooting chapter and a supporter of the right and responsibility to defend oneself.

I have read this bill in its entirety. This is the best bill concerning gun and private property rights put forth in years and I am strongly in favor of it. As someone who is very active in my church as a Stephen Minister, Sunday School teacher and choir member, I often find myself there in the evenings and, often walking back to my car located in one of the handful of parking lots scattered about in downtown Marietta, in the dark. Current law prevents me from legally being able to defend myself properly in this situation should the need arise. I take great issue with this for two reasons: One, churches are private property and should be treated as such. No government should be able to grant certain private property rights to one private entity yet deny the same to another. Secondly, it is my responsibility and, ultimately, mine alone to protect myself. Our police are a wonderful resource but criminals are not generally known to wait for the police to arrive before committing heinous and unlawful acts. For most victims, the police are there in time for the crime to be reported but not there in time to prevent it from being committed. I shouldn’t be denied by law the right to equip myself for my own proactive protection whether it’s at the grocery store, my home or a place of worship. 

Victims are not allowed the opportunity to know when or where they may be victimized. Being one of millions of women who have been victimized at some point in their lives, I’ve had the unfortunate need to defend my life and safety. In 1999 I found myself being chased by my ex-husband with an ASP baton like many police carry. There was no help in sight and no one to depend upon to save me but myself. I felt 100% certain that my life was in jeopardy at that moment. Thinking quickly, I drew my carry gun at that time from my purse and ordered him to not take another step toward me. That day, I was able to defend myself and deter him from the harm he intended to inflict upon me without firing a single shot. Had I not been properly equipped, I feel very confident in saying that I would not be alive today. 

As a woman, it’s important to me to feel safe, secure and equipped with the ability to defend myself. As a citizen and 2nd Amendment supporter, freedom, liberty and rights are dear to my heart. The more limitations there are on where I am permitted to be lawfully armed, the less safe, secure and equipped I am and the more my liberty and rights are infringed upon. As a believer in liberty and The Constitution, I’d like to further point out that current and further restrictions upon where carry is permitted by law is, at its core, rooted in distrust of the lawful citizenry and, as such, is not in accordance with a free society rooted in liberty.

I implore you, as both a woman and citizen, to support and favor this bill. 

Thank you for your consideration.”

Pineapple Banana Pecan Muffins

I’m always looking for new ways to use pineapple. I love it. Today, I had some bananas which were threatening to go bad soon and I figured I’d make some banana bread. Then, the most wonderful thought popped into my head, “I should add pineapple!” I went onto Google and found a recipe for Pineapple Banana Bread. At first, I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t the first person to come up with this genius idea. But, I got over that quickly.  I adapted the recipe a bit because I wanted to make muffins and add nuts. Because everything is better with nuts.

pineapplebananamuffins

Pineapple Banana Pecan Muffins

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4 to 5 medium)
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 jumbo muffin tins. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and vanilla; add pineapple and bananas. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in pecans. Fill cups full. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and turn out onto wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12 jumbo muffins.